Women Meet with Guterres at UN Townhall Meeting

 World Goodwill attended a Townhall Meeting at UN Headquarters in NY on Friday, 17 March.

Large numbers of women from around the world are currently at UN HQ for the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which includes official UN meetings together with numerous side events for NGO representatives. The Townhall provided an opportunity for women’s Civil Society Organizations to meet with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. 

It was a productive gathering, clearly setting the  intention for a continual dialogue and constructive working relationship between women’s civil society and the Office of the Secretary General.  

"You are all very kind to come," said Guterres, "Let's spend the time we have together with me listening to your insights.  We want gender parity, 50-50, by 2030.  How do you see it happening?"

  • The women asked for a liaison between civil society and the SG's office, similar to what Kofi Anan had done.  Guterres was quick to offer to do the same, "and it will be a woman."
  • The women asked for the field to be prepared so a woman could be appointed as the next  Secretary-General.  Guterres replied in jest that he may be ready to consider resigning.  
  • The women asked what the UN was going to do for them in terms of funding, transforming global inequalities, and addressing  women's issues.  Guterres made no promises of funding: "look at the news."  He stressed that he is limited to the instruments available, "there will be no miracles."  He offered that instruments to measure gender mainstreaming could be created and employed at the UN; his goal is to have gender parity at the UN.
  • A 17 year old woman shared that this is her 4th year to attend a CSW at the UN as a "girl advocate" and she asked that "girls" have more of a voice on the issues, "if we are not afraid to face them, don't be afraid to talk about them."  Guterres responded that he will appoint a Youth Envoy to report to him as his predecessor had done.  "This time, it will be a woman."
  • Guterres was asked  what could be done in response to the growing "backlash" against women that is occurring.  He noted that the principles of the UN Charter can be fully acknowledged, "there can be no discrimination ever."

He shared that he  advocates a flow of communication between civil society and those in political positions. The voice of civil society needs to have an influence in decisions being made in every country, " the same as in the UN."

 In the future more opportunities are expected  for civil society to meet with Secretary-General António Guterres. 


Read the report of the Townhall from UN Women.

Watch the webcast:  http://webtv.un.org/